Stomach Acid 4 of 4 – A Longer Term Route to Better Health #notjustbipolar

On 7th July I blogged about all long-term disorders, whether it be bipolar, diabetes, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, M.E., arteriosclerosis (or any of hundreds of others) seeming to be caused largely by what we eat or fail to eat. More accurately, these disorders are linked to what our bodies ingest and digest, meaning that sometimes we may consume all the nutrients we need but if some are passing straight through us we will become unwell.

We need to have enough stomach acid, right when we need it in order that we get most benefit from our food and avoid feeling groggy/miserable due to poorly digested foods in our lower gut.

When unwell or very stressed it can be difficult to make enough stomach acid to digest all we eat and that is why I wrote about Nutrigest® as a ‘quick fix’. Now, I want to offer a long-term solution that requires something more like willpower rather than tablets. Although the best long-term plan must be: to continue to better understand about all aspects of understanding nutrition.

This solution to having low stomach acid comes in two parts:

  1. Go longer between meals and cut out just about all snacks.

This allows your stomach to have a rest and to be prepared to rapidly make lots of acid at exactly the time you need it. The stomach can then work on your food batch-by-batch, being guided by its acidity, keeping both valves tightly closed while doing its hardest work with its strongest acid.

This could be linked to ‘intermittent fasting’ but mainly I have found that just going a little longer between meals and minimising snacking can lead to big improvements.

  1. Avoid unnecessarily large meals.

This part I have found to be more difficult. I used to almost always have sensible sized meals, meaning meals that my stomach could easily cope with. However, when I reacted badly to Prozac I was told I would need to take Olanzapine for life to avoid being overactive.

Olanzapine is a drug also given to people with anorexic to help with weight gain. It is said to switch off the chemical message to the brain that is released as the stomach fills. On Olanzapine I was always hungry; overeating, but still hungry. I guess this stretched my stomach.

Coming off the Olanzapine gradually over several years allowed me to lose all the excess weight, but my appetite remained, with me craving food more or less whenever I was not asleep. I looked forward to every meal, talked about food excessively (I still do that) and would snack and snack at every opportunity.

One thing that can help with cutting down on the total size of a meal is to fill your plate with the amount you feel is right to keep you going to your next meal and before starting have a firm plan for what you will do as soon as you finish eating what is in front of you. Add to this the option to stop and put any remaining food in the fridge if you do notice you are feeling full enough.

All this may sound like just another weight-loss diet however the purpose is different from most diets and works for most thin people too when it comes to sorting out stomach acid. Having the right amount of stomach acid gives us the best possible chance of getting the most from our food and so the raw materials with which to combat disorders.

How common is low stomach acid among people diagnosed with bipolar and these other common disorders? It seems to be very common and many finding Nutrigest® to be very beneficial for mood. It seems likely we have all suffered from low stomach acid at some time as it is related to stress and we have all been stressed at some time.

I have described the above as a zero cost option, really though, it saves money. By going longer between meals and not snacking I have saved £75/month on my food bill.

In a future blog I will explain why it took me so long to make this change and how I have been able to go longer between meals and yet; feel less hungry, have more energy and feel much fitter.

Warning: If you are of very low weight or very unwell then be cautious about going longer between meals and discuss your desire to tackle low stomach acid with a nutritionist or your doctor before changing what and when you eat.

Warning: The label says not to take Nutrigest® if you have a stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcers are not as common as many people think, so if you were ever told you had one without appropriate testing then now could be a good time to ask to have your stomach checked by a specialist.

Please contact me if you would like to know more about this method of overcoming many common disorders. I can tell you more about the changes I have made for myself or share links to the research that shows less often and eating less helps most people.

Finally please be kind to friends and family who struggle with eating less. Very often drugs/medication drive us directly or indirectly to eat more, while modern living leads to stressed people who naturally want to eat to frequently hoping to relieve some of their stress.

Roger Smith – – article updated 9th July 2014

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue Part 1 of 3

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue

There are many causes of variable energy levels. If you used to be OK and now you are not so OK, you may be wondering what is going wrong.

How you describe your struggles can make a huge difference in how you recover and get back to something like your usual self.

I am only just starting to study Adrenal Fatigue, so bear with me as I make tentative efforts to show the similarities and differences between this and bipolar disorder diagnosis. I intend to come back to this article and make it more detailed and precise as I learn more about Adrenal Fatigue. In fact I am going to publish this only part written and add to it bit by bit when I have the energy to do so.

Similarities and differences:


  • Both diagnoses involve changes in energy level
  • Adrenal Fatigue is likely to affect you to some extent every day until you deal with whatever is causing it. Bipolar disorder is said to come and go and is said to allow you to have days that are symptom free. If you are running out of energy during daylight hours when you did not used to run out of energy then this is likely to be related to poor functioning of the adrenal glands.
  • If you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue you are likely to have or seem to have periods of higher energy as you are likely to need to be very busy while you do have energy to catch up for when you do not have energy. If you have Adrenal Fatigue and are not dealing with it then you will find these periods of higher energy get shorter and perhaps less frequent. The bipolar diagnosis does not necessarily predict shorter and less frequent high energy periods.


  • There are no medical tests for bipolar diagnosis. Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric label that covers a range of physical and psychological troubles. It cannot be detected by brain scans or blood tests. Bipolar is diagnosed by observing someone who appears to have variable moods and involves asking questions of that person, their family and people who come in contact with them. To a psychiatrist or similarly informed doctor anyone with Adrenal Fatigue could be thought to have bipolar disorder.
  • Adrenal Fatigue blood tests – The adrenal glands produce cortisol and a hormone (maybe technically better described as a hormone precursor) known as DHEA. The adrenals produce the ideal level of these chemicals to match your body’s requirements. Both these naturally occurring chemicals can be detected in the blood. The level detected in a blood sample gives a snap-shot of how your adrenals are working. Exceptionally low levels are associated with Adrenal Fatigue. However, you and your doctor need to know the time of day the sample is taken as cortisol and DHEA vary throughout the day.
  • Adrenal Fatigue saliva testing – Cortisol and DHEA are small molecules that travel to all parts of your body including the saliva glands. The test involves spitting in a sample tube and this being sent to a laboratory for analysis. With no need for syringes and needles this test is relatively inexpensive. The main advantage of this test over blood tests is that it is easy to take several samples in one day and with less stress than making a trip to your GP for blood to be taken. How the cortisol and DHEA vary during the day allow a precise measure of how your adrenals are working and it only takes one day of testing to confirm your level of adrenal fatigue.
  • I will repeat here that there are no medical tests for bipolar disorder. If you suspect you may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder a good option is to ask for a day of saliva testing just to be sure your symptoms are not related to Adrenal Fatigue.

If your adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol quickly enough you will struggle with all situations that you find stressful. With insufficient cortisol you will be displaying all sorts of symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue that match symptoms of bipolar diagnosis.

  • Sleep pattern: Variable and seen as problematic for both bipolar and Adrenal Fatigue
  • Need to lie down during daytime – only said to happen during depressed phase of bipolar. With Adrenal Fatigue this is going to be happening most days unless you are consistently stimulated – perhaps having a demanding daytime job, so have to keep going and then collapse in the evening.
  • Irritability – You need a good level of cortisol to be able to cope with annoying people and without enough you will react in a way that ‘bipolar people’ are said to react.
  • Concentration – same as bipolar.
  • Pessimism, periods of feeling hopeless/helpless, negative thoughts and feelings – all the same as bipolar.
  • Reaction to stimulants such as caffeine – as for bipolar
  • Appearance – likely to be over-weight or under-weight with a tendency to lose weight when not taking sedatives, such as ‘antipsychotics’ / ‘antidepressants’ / ‘mood stabilizers’. Often looking tired – as for bipolar
  • Development of food intolerances – as with bipolar this may be several years after diagnosis.


  • As with bipolar lifestyle changes, such as; what you eat, what you drink, what drugs you take and avoid, who you spend time with, the time you go to bed and so on, will decide the course of the disorder.
  • In general, bipolar disorder diagnosis (in the UK at this time) results in a lifetime of medication. Adrenal Fatigue rarely requires any drug treatment and recovery usually involves finding ways of living with minimum use of drugs.
  • Treatments for bipolar will in the long run make your Adrenal Fatigue worse.

I have typed all the above without reference to any text books or on-line articles. There may be errors. I am going to publish this as blog on in this rough draft form, as I think it is such an important debate that needs to happen. Are millions of people whose adrenal glands struggle to cope with the modern world being diagnosed as bipolar, and not being given advice on how to look after their glands and feel less stressed?

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 2 – Diagnostics #adrenal #adrenalfatigue #bipolar

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 2 – Diagnostics

We can come to believe we have bipolar disorder by going down a check-list and finding we match just about all the symptoms.

Adrenal Fatigue has similar check-lists such as Dr Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue questionnaire:

If you are living a busy stressful life and unable to relax you will most likely get a high score on both bipolar and adrenal fatigue check-lists.

My scores indicated severe Adrenal Fatigue, which makes sense considering what I been through and my lifestyle. However, are quizzes like these truly diagnostic? They do not tell us much about the causes. Our responses are based on our own feelings and not precise measurements.

With bipolar this is all we have. It is not possible to scientifically diagnose anyone with bipolar as there are no blood tests, brain scans or anything like that for bipolar. There cannot be as bipolar is simply a word used for anyone who has extreme struggles with their moods, regardless of why they are struggling.

Adrenal Fatigue differs from bipolar: Accurate laboratory based tests for adrenal function/dysfunction have been available for decades.

  •  Adrenal Fatigue Saliva Test: The adrenal glands produce hormones including cortisol and DHEA. These small molecules travel to all parts of your body including the saliva glands. The test involves spitting in a sample tube for laboratory for analysis. This is better than blood tests as it is less stressful and allows for several samples in one day. It is how the cortisol and DHEA vary during the day that allows the precise measure of your adrenal function. One day of testing will confirm your level of adrenal fatigue. Results are provided as a graph, showing changes throughout the day.

My adrenal function test results from April 2013 – click image to see it enlarged:


Adrenal function test results

Cortisol is naturally high in the morning and decreases towards bedtime. If it does not start high enough or drops too rapidly you have most likely got a problem.

DHEA is so central to hormone production that a good level of this is needed at all times. Low results indicate lifestyle changes (perhaps better diet and more rest) are needed.

This test may be better described as a test for Adrenal Dysfunction as the test tells us about how our adrenal glands are performing rather than being directly related to how fatigued you are feeling. Adrenal dysfunction means your energy levels stop matching what you need and when you need it. Dysfunction eventually leads to fatigue.

What does all this mean?

  1. Nobody, not even you can prove you have a disorder called bipolar.
  2. Doctors can measure and say for certain how your adrenal glands are performing and if under-performance is affecting your mood.

If you have been diagnosed/labelled with bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, M.E. or similar then ask your doctor about having your adrenal glands tested through saliva testing. If your doctor says, “No” then consider paying for this test. I think it cost me about £80. If you want me to look up exactly what I paid and where I had the test done, then contact me through the comments option on this blog or through

Bipolar or Adrenal Fatigue – Part 3 of 3

There are many conditions that lead to bipolar diagnosis. Adrenal dysfunction is just one possibility as discussed here in response to a member of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition.

Thank you for your useful contribution to my comparison of adrenal dysfunction with bipolar diagnosis.

Poor diet is one of the main causes of mood disorder, so the link to the Institute of Optimum Nutrition is going to help a lot of readers. The nutrients mentioned are all important and as you know there is a lot more about our diets that need to be taken into account. Moving on from a bipolar diagnosis will involve dietary improvements as part of a recovery plan.

In saying adrenal fatigue is mistakenly being diagnosed as a psychiatric disorder I was very much thinking all forms of bipolar other than the old manic depression diagnosis that involves people getting extremely busy, having grandiose plans and as you say, “have enough energy to rush around.” This state is described as mania and may also involve noticeable loss of touch with reality, with delusions and/or hallucinations.

In the more modern forms of bipolar, which are now by far the more common diagnosis, there is a much closer match with adrenal fatigue. With the Bipolar 2 diagnosis the patient has long periods of low energy and negative feelings, with short-lived periods of having a little more energy often not even noticed by friends and relatives. With another form of bipolar called cyclothymia the periods of low mood are not usually disabling but just keep on happening, and again without any extreme highs.

What I have noticed is that like me, people may initially see a doctor when having plenty of energy and asking for help, but after several years of involvement with psychiatry the high energy periods become shorter and less extreme until the pattern of moods looks more like on-going fatigue.

I am sure we are agreed that Adrenal Fatigue is best not described as a psychiatric disorder. I am hoping is that my articles will remind doctors that there are many reasons for apparent mood disorders. The other imbalances you mention (hormones, nutrients, food intolerances, blood sugar) do cause imbalanced moods and do need to be addressed first along with external stressors.

Most people who start off appearing to ‘be bipolar’ eventually end up fatigued and coping with exhaustion becomes our biggest daily challenge. (As discussed elsewhere sedative psychiatric drugs can cause more fatigue.)

Too often a bipolar diagnosis is given without looking for other possible causes. Adrenal Fatigue is just one of these possibilities and there are many more that I wish could be checked out before psychiatric labels are considered.


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